Reducing single-use plastic packaging has rapidly become something of a global concern and we all share a responsibility to manage our impact on the environment and look for ways to help replace and reduce single-use plastics and maximise recycling.
Plastic can be incredibly useful. Diabetics use it for their disposable syringes; arthritic patients have it for their replaced hips; and construction workers wear it to protect their heads. Without it we wouldn’t have computers, mobile phones or cars. Plastic packaging offers a convenient and effective way to take away food and drink.
Whilst most plastic packaging can be recycled into new products, a proportion of it ends up in landfill or sent for energy recovery. This could be because the consumer is unable to (or chooses not to try to) recycle or because the packaging is rejected during the recycling process because it’s contaminated by food or too small or too lightweight to process.
Plastics that are not put in the bin end up being littered (deliberately or accidentally). Litter finds its way into local watercourses, onto beaches, and into oceans. Plastic waste in water and on land is not only unsightly, it also poses significant threats to our environment and to wildlife.
REDUCE - Eliminate unnecessary single-use plastics where possible
REUSE - Use reusable/ washable items over single-use plastics
RECYCLE - Improve the collection of plastic packaging by recycling correctly
Plastic straws are made from polypropylene and not commonly recyclable. If they’re littered they pose significant threats to our environment and to wildlife. Can you stop using straws altogether? If your preference is to drink through a thin tube, then there are plenty of reusable dishwasher-proof alternatives that can be found for use on the go
Plastic cutlery is usually made from polystyrene and not commonly recyclable. When dining in, always use metal cutlery. For on the go, why not carry your own cutlery set, there are many small, portable sets that be found. If you’re using chopsticks, then again why not carry your own set with you
Coffee cups can be made from foam, plastic, or paper with a waterproof lining. Polyethylene lined paper cups are considered the best environmental choice because they use the least plastic and in some countries, they can be separately collected for recycling. Reusable mugs are a great alternative to paper cups. You can even get foldable ones that pack into a tiny bag
Water cups are usually made from plastic that is non-recyclable. Reusable water bottles allow you to drink on the go and can also serve as a reminder to keep yourself hydrated throughout the day
Take the ‘Plate Pledge’. Choose to eat-in with a reusable plate and you will save an item of single-use packaging
Plastic bags. There’s not much more to be said about plastic bags, once very useful and now just a redundant fad. Wherever you live there is probably a wide choice of reusable bags perfectly suited to your needs
Soft drinks in PET plastic bottles are popular hydration choices as they’re lightweight, hygienic and can be resealed. It takes less energy to make a plastic bottle compared to an aluminium can or glass bottle, so the carbon impact is lower. Coca-Cola plastic bottles, for example, are made from 25% recycled plastic and are 100% recyclable. Being widely recyclable and often accepted within mixed recycling collections, make sure that you’re recycling your empty bottles. Recycled plastic reduces the need for new plastic to be produced